Subject: AU: Study radio intercepts, Balibo Five probe told

Study radio intercepts, Balibo Five probe told

David King

January 29, 2007

THE coroner investigating the death of the Balibo Five has been urged to expand the inquiry to examine top-secret Indonesian military transmissions intercepted by Australia.

A former Defence Signals Directorate officer, who asked that his identity remain secret, told The Australian he had seen two Indonesian transmissions about the 1975 shooting of five journalists reporting for Australian networks when he worked at the CK2 listening base in Singapore.

"It was a request from HQ in Jakarta to Timor saying please give us any information that you have on the situation," he said.

"I didn't see anything saying they were executed."

The retired intelligence officer said hard copies of the transmissions would have been made. "There would have been a report written for anything considered sensitive, (which) went to DSD in Melbourne," he said.

In December, NSW Deputy Coroner Dorelle Pinch took the unusual step of asking members of Australia's intelligence community to come forward with any information they might have had about intercepted Indonesian communications related to the killings in Balibo, East Timor, in 1975. She asked that radio operators who worked at the DSD receiving station at Shoal Bay in Darwin between October 14 and October 20, 1975, come forward.

But the retired DSD officer said the Singapore base and the 7th Signals Regiment facility at Carbalah, near Toowoomba in Queensland, would have been the main listening posts for Indonesian transmissions. He said the coroner needed to speak to traffic analysts, who decoded the secret radio transmissions, as well as radio operators.

"Singapore was the place where they intercepted all the main Indonesian secret communiques," he said.

He said he thought it was unlikely that information about the shooting would have been passed on by DSD to their "political masters".

"I got the distinct impression this stuff was not passed on ... it was kept within the intelligence community," he said.

The former officer said this was because top intelligence officers did not want to take the risk that a politician might say something that could reveal the extent to which Indonesia's communication codes had been cracked by Australia.

Official reports said the men died in crossfire after Indonesian military forces took the town.

Sydney's Daily Telegraph reported last week that an airforce listening base in Western Australia had recorded Indonesian troops discussing the "elimination" of the journalists.

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